233. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State1

4358. Subj: Soviet memorandum on European security. Ref: Bonn 4342.2

The Soviet memorandum, while businesslike and free from polemics, is rigid in substance.
It is not surprising that the Soviets selected from the various topics suggested by the Germans for discussion the proposal for an exchange of non-use-of-force declarations, for they had been given an opening to exploit. This proposal dates back to the FRG’s peace note of March 25, 1966.3 However, the Kiesinger government added an attractive nuance to the original proposal by indicating, in various pronouncements [Page 592] including the original government declaration of December 13, that the GDR could in some way be included under the mantle of the exchange of non-force declarations.
By offering this come-on, the Germans did not have in mind exchanging declarations with the GDR, but rather some formula whereby the FRG’s pledges of non-use of force would apply to its border with the GDR. However, the Soviets have come back with the rigid condition that “the Soviet Union can give its consent to negotiations about the exchange of statements renouncing the use of force only if the Federal Republic, for its part, expresses its readiness to exchange respective declarations with the German Democratic Republic …”
The Germans will not want to accept this condition, and so the Soviet-German exchanges on this proposal do not seem likely to lead anywhere, unless the Soviets were unexpectedly to lower their demands. However, the Germans will probably want to respond with a counter-offer in order to further probe Soviet intentions and to give the impression of some motion in German-Soviet relations.
An interesting sidelight of the Soviet memorandum is the fact that it ignored completely the German offer to discuss mutual force reductions. This omission would seem to confirm the Department’s judgment (State 52708)4 that the Soviets are not interested in such an arrangement under present world conditions. However, according to a [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] report [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], Tsarapkin mentioned the possibility of preparatory talks on this subject. The same report also indicates that Brandt and Tsarapkin had a more extensive exchange of views than was suggested by Sahm. The report—which we commend to the Department’s attention—[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] may not be accurate in all its details.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Germany, vol. 14. Secret; Priority; Exdis.
  2. Telegram 4342, October 18, forwarded a translation of the text of an October 12 Soviet memorandum handed by Tsarapkin to Brandt. For text, see Documents on Germany, 1944 -1985, pp. 964–966.
  3. See ibid., pp. 914–917.
  4. Dated October 2. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 6 NATO)